Ryan Heath lifts Irondequoit past South Side and into state Class A final

Irondequoit waited until the second half to step on the gas.

Coach Chris Cardon, one of the states most winningest coaches, will return to the state championship game in his final season, thanks to an 18-point second half from Ryan Heath and a defensive clinic from the Eagles in their 50-29 win over Section VIII's South Side Friday night.

"It's unbelievable," Cardon said to NYSPHSAA after the win. "This is our third trip (to the final four) and second trip to the finals in six years. I'm very fortunate. Our guys are really close-knit and I think they held themselves together."

What it means

The win marked Cardon's 523rd victory. He'll take Irondequoit (22-4) into its second state final since winning the NYSPHSAA Class A title in 2017. The Eagles are riding a six-game winning streak since ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak.

Section VIII South Side's season ended at 25-2. The Cyclones entered the semifinals on a 24-game winning streak.

"They were tough to score against in the half court," Cardon said.

Player of the game

Ryan Heath

Irondequoit's senior point guard scored 18 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Heath's buzzer beater gave him an eight-point third quarter to help the Eagles breakaway.

"This is a great win for us, but we know the job still isn't done," Heath told NSYPHSAA. "We had a sluggish first half but we picked it up in the second half."

Game balls

Isaiah Ballard

The junior forward scored 10 points. Ballard scored eight of those in the first half, keeping Irondequoit afloat while the Eagles struggled to score.

"It means a lot to us," Ballard said. "We came in here with the mindset knowing we could beat this team. We just had to play our type of defense, play our type of offense, take advantage of what we had, and all we had to do was get the job done. Job's still not done, though."

Xavier Gissendanner

The 6-foot-4 senior forward scored nine points. Gissendanner's third quarter 3-pointer gave Irondequoit a 24-21 lead the Eagles would not relinquish.

Quinn VanKerkhove

The junior guard scored nine points in the win. VanKerkhove made a tough up-and-under layup late in the fourth that gave Irondequoit a 42-27 lead.

Key moments

Gissendanner received a pass from Heath and threw down a one-handed slam dunk. The play ignited the crowd and capped a 7-0 Irondequoit run that gave the Eagles a 26-21 third quarter lead. Irondequoit trailed the Cyclones 21-19 at halftime.

Heath scored the Eagles next 12 points. Eight came in the third, beating the buzzer with a floater with to take a 34-24 lead into the fourth.

What's next

Irondequoit will play Section I's Tappan Zee in the NYSPHSAA Class A final at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

Tappan Zee (24-2) defeated Section III's New Hartford 58-48 in Friday's other Class A semifinal.

"They're very similar to us," Cardon said about Tappan Zee. "I just think we've got to stay in the moment. Don't do anything differently and just play like we've played the last couple of weeks."


Tickets can be purchased on-site for $10 or in advance through Seat Geek for $13 including fees. Parking is available in several nearby lots.


All of the NYSPHSAA games will be streamed by the NFHS Network, which charges $11.99 for a monthly subscription.

This story will be updated later.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: NY state semifinals: Ryan Heath lifts Irondequoit into Class A final